A John Williams Celebration Blu-ray Review
When the Walt Disney Company opened the doors to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra’s new home, in the fall of 2014, conductor Gustavo Dudamel dedicated the 2014/2015 season’s opening night concert to five-time Academy Award winning composer/conductor John Williams.
Williams, whose most recent work is the score to director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is a legend in both the music and film industries. Since the late 1950s, he has composed and/or arranged music and served as music director for nearly eighty films, including “Saving Private Ryan,” “Amistad,” “Seven Years in Tibet,” “The Lost World,” “Rosewood,” “Schindler’s List,” the Indiana Jones series, “Empire of the Sun,” “The Witches of Eastwick,” the Star Wars saga, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Superman,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Jaws” and “Catch Me if You Can.”
In C-Major Entertainment’s “A John Williams Celebration, director Michael Beyer and producer Bernhard Meyer capture the entire 85-minute concert performed by the L.A. Philharmonic under the baton of its 34-year-old musical director, Gustavo Dudamel.
A long-time fan of Williams’ movie scores and classical concert pieces (such as “Soundings” and “The Five Sacred Trees”), Dudamel worked behind the scenes with Williams on “The Force Awakens.” According to the Los Angeles Times, Dudamel conducted the opening and end titles music for the “Star Wars” saga’s newest film.
“A John Williams Celebration” is an eclectic sampler of Williams’ various compositions. Most of the pieces performed by the L.A. Philharmonic are culled from the composer’s large treasure trove of film scores. In addition, the program includes especially commissioned works, such as 1984’s “Olympic Fanfare and Theme’ and 2014’s “Soundings.
“For the 2014/15 Opening Night Concert and Gala, the Los Angeles Philharmonic paid loving tribute to composer John Williams, long a champion and close friend of the LA Phil. Gustavo Dudamel, an awestruck fan of the musical icon, led the orchestra in a cross section of Maestro Williams’ matchless canon. Featuring Itzhak Perlman with a very special musical performance of pieces from Schindler’s List as well as the Cadenza and variations from Fiddler on the Roof. Jazz elements will fill the air during Escapades from Catch Me if You Can, and may the force be with you during the iconic tunes from Star Wars.” – Back cover blurb, “A John Williams Celebration”
The concert program includes:
· “Olympic Fanfare and Theme”
· “Schindler’s List”
· “Fiddler on the Roof”
· “Catch Me if You Can”
· “Star Wars”
· “The Empire Strikes Back”
The concert also features violinist Itzhak Perlman, who has collaborated with Williams on the score for “Schindler’s List” and two movie theme albums, “Cinema Serenade” and “Cinema Serenade 2: The Golden Age.”
The 2015 Blu-ray also has interviews with Williams, Perlman, and Dudamel. They’re not very long; the one with the two conductors is 13 minutes long, and Perlman’s has a running time of only three minutes.
Although many John Williams fans may miss hearing many of their favorite themes, “A John Williams Celebration” is still an enjoyable concert video. The video quality is not perfect, but the few flaws in the picture will bother only perfectionists who notice such things. The LPCM 2.0 stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD audio tracks, however, are pitch-perfect and clearly capture the nuances of the L.A. Philharmonic’s performance.
- Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
- Resolution: 1080i
- Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
- Original aspect ratio: 1.78:1
- English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- English: LPCM 2.0
- French, Spanish, Japanese, German
- 50GB Blu-ray Disc
- Single disc (1 BD)
- Slipcover in original pressing
- Region A
- Rated: NR (Not Rated)
- Studio: C Major Entertainment
- Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: June 30, 2015
- Run Time: 103 minutes